DIY Contractor Marketing: Should You Do It?

DIY Contractor Marketing: Should You Do It?
Chris Lonergan
Chris Lonergan August 30, 2017

I'm sure that a fair share of your emergency service calls start with "I found how to do this on YouTube, but then something went wrong." While DIY's gone wrong are great for your business, in the end – your client is taking a small scale problem and turning it into a bigger (more costly) mistake.

Why does your customer bother to DIY then? Because, to do-it-yourself-ers and DIY weekend warriors, there is a potential cost savings. Instead of paying a professional for their years of experience, it is possible to save a few bucks today. And sometimes, for some specific situations, they can get by.

The same is true for businesses. Thanks to the resources of the internet, there are ways to DIY contractor marketing and your overall business operations. The same potential pitfalls apply, too. Let's talk about what you should and should not DIY – and some guidelines to help you decide what you should in your particular situation.

Business Website Operation Versus Optimization

Your website is a primary gateway for prospective clients to learn about you. It makes sense, then to focus some good resources on your site.

DIY Contractor Marketing Options for Web – Over the last few years, there has been an explosion of do-it-yourself marketing and website builders – like Wix and SquareSpace. Admittedly, these builders have come a long way since those really ugly drag-and-drop editors. Basic free templates make trying to do your website yourself very tempting.

So should you consider those types of services? In some very specific circumstances, sole entrepreneurs may find themselves leaning toward a DIY website. In the end, you are trading extremely low cost with potentially low quality at a high cost of time. Are you a visual type person already? Do you have more time then you know what to do with? If you're more handy with a pipe wrench than you are with digital design, you risk creating an image of your website that is less than professional.

I can likely, from a basic technical standpoint, figure out how to clear my slow tub drain with some stuff from Home Depot – but I will not properly get the job done unless I have a plumber with the right tools and know-how helping me out.

You can likely, from a basic technical standpoint, operate your website with one of these WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) editors – but you will have never a well optimized (for people or for search engines) online presence unless you have a specialist with appropriate industry knowledge helping you out.

The Takeaway – More often than not, if you have any marketing budget at all you should get a professionally built website. You don't have to spend $90k on your first website, but you should still find someone who is reputable and who can keep your website updated for you on a regular basis. While you should always be active in your marketing, you don't have to be in the trenches in the daily operation of your website code and design.

Being Social Online and DIY Contractor Marketing

You just can't ignore social media anymore. You don't have to be online checking-in and tweeting at all hours of the day and night – but it is important to have a regularly maintained social media presence.

People often misconstrue social media marketing with lead generation. That's not to say it is impossible – you can get more clicks to your website and get in front of more people if you are paying for advertising on Facebook. For most users, social media activity is more about marketing. Staying in front of your past and prospective clients via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Houzz, or whatever methods that work best for your industry is all about top-of-mind awareness.

Just like most forms of marketing, social media is most effective when there is involvement at the business level – when business owners and operators work together with their marketing staff.

The Takeaway – If you have the time, or an office staff that is willing to learn, you can maintain a basic presence on social media within your organization if it is a small enough business. As the business grows and you need to focus more time on customers than social media – or if you are considering running paid advertising on social media networks – it's time to shift away from DIY contractor marketing and call in someone to take care of the heavy lifting for social media. A skilled social media management team can maximize the impact of your paid advertising and be another set of eyes and ears maintaining your business social media presence.

Everyday Photography

A lot of people are visual – They may not want to read about what you do, or how long you've been in business, or why seasonal maintenance is cost effective. Depending on your industry, your website visitors just want to see pictures of you and your work. So what's the best way to get quality pictures of what you do?

Anyone is capable taking some quick snapshots. And with a little bit of planning and foresight, you can learn how to transform snapshots into better looking pictures that really highlight your work.

I'm not saying that you can become a shutterbug overnight after reading a blog or two – professional photographers have higher quality equipment and more experience staging pictures, which likely produces a much better photo than the picture you snapped on your iPhone.

The Takeaway – The bigger concern here is the cost-to-benefit ratio. Did you replace someone's kitchen sink? Snap a picture with your smartphone for some money saving DIY contractor marketing. Did you complete a new kitchen remodeling job in a million dollar home? Consider splurging a bit on some really good photography that you can use on your website and future marketing material for years to come.

In General – When I Should Rely on the Experts?

In the end, it comes down to where would your effort and resources can be best spent.

If you are a guy in a truck, then you probably don't need a social media team and photography on call 24/7. If are running multiple jobs simultaneously and have a dispatch staff, you probably don't need to be running your own website out of the office.

Experts are available to maximize your impact, exchanging a bit of money for the sake of saving you major time and skill development. Just as you are an expert in your field that people rely upon, realize that you'll have to do the same to get your company to grow.

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